Click here to go to the next issue
Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nondual Highlights each day
#2932 - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz
The Nondual Highlights - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights
Writings on Nonduality. Amazon site: http://nonduality.com/one.htm
Check availability at your local Borders Store: http://www.bordersstores.com/locator/locator.jsp?tt=gn
A Zen Garden. The story by
Jerrysan Rinpoche (Jerry C. Weinstein) can now be read at
Namaste and love to all
Anna sends the following to Nonduality Salon:
"See it in Self" Edgar
From Era posted to Freedom_From_The_Known
A New Kind of Judgment: the development of Awareness
There are fundamentally two types of judgment for two types of levels
When we judge something and condemn it, it doesn't feel very
spiritual. Most of the world is doing this most of the time. I'll call
this the level of "betterment". We judge between good and bad and are
always wanting the better of the situation. Very normal, and again,
where most of the world resonates.
When we discern, or judge, to not attach to a situation, we are
potentially coming from (or moving to) a non-dual or what many people
think is a very spiritual place. Both of these actions use judgment.
One is on the level of betterment, and one is on the level of
non-duality or spirituality. This non-dual judgment is the new
kindofjudgment. It is the development of awareness.
What most of us are trying to accomplish in meditation, or learning
our own minds, is an appreciation of what is. A non-comparative
experience of is-ness. No good, no bad, just is-ness, or stillness.
That type of experience is often called non-dual, and we try to
experience it during meditation, and since meditation has a spiritual
stigma surrounding it, we tend to equate spirituality with non-dual
states of mind.
The more normal experience is on the level of betterment. The level
where I prefer this smell to that smell, this feeling to that feeling,
this person to that person. The first talk I did was on beliefs, and
how beliefs are born from opinions. Well the level of betterment is
the dance of comparing what we believe we are, with our situation; and
striving toward the better aspects of that situation. An important
point in this talk, and all my talks is to remember that we have the
tendency to solidify our beliefs, but that it might serve us to soften
our beliefs about who we are so there's less "us" for phenomenon to
bump into. This is not unhealthy dissociation, it is being aware of
our ability to judge things in many different ways. I'll discuss more
on beliefs later.
I'm going to define a couple other words right now: relative and
absolute. Relative is the dance between two or more things, and
absolute is oneness (or potentially nothingness, but that's another
conversation). If I am comparing something to something else, or even
something to myself, I am in a relativistic good-bad frame of mind. If
there is no comparison, and there is only experience of what is, then
I am in a non-dual, or what we might call a spiritual state of mind.
So the concept for this talk is this: if we use judgment to support a
good or bad belief, or a betterment belief, meaning a qualitative
stance on things, then we are not acting in a traditional spiritual
fashion, but we are acting on a betterment fashion. On the other hand,
If we are using judgment to choose a not belief based, not good or bad
comparison, but our choice is to choose non-comparison itself; then
we're acting deeply spiritual, or deeply non-dual. That ability would
be the new kind of judgement. The decision to drop comparison.
Many people are dancing in this space without much context at this
point. They learn about the non-dual state of mind, and all of a
sudden duality or the betterment level is bad. But, we're not supposed
to always act spiritual, or non-dual. To think about it differently,
this entire life is spiritual, but many people take spiritual to mean
non-dual experience only. You might start to feel that we can bring
the term spiritual to both levels: non-dual and betterment; if we see
that awareness or discernment are involved throughout. My betterment
decisions become more spiritually based when I have the non-dual
experience available to me.
The betterment level is where we can lose weight. It's where we make
more money. It's where we can actually affect change in our lives, and
other peoples lives. It's not a bad place. We want to get better at
dealing with the betterment level because it is a part of life. We
just don't want to remain lost in the betterment level only. We need
both in our toolkit. If we don't have any ability to just "be", to
just feel the situation, to move our solidified center of self out of
the way, then we don't have as many tools. The non-dual experiential
side allows us to see the beauty in whatever comes up. Without that we
don't have the freedom side of things. So one is the work
(betterment), and one is the freedom (non-dual experience). Most of us
are just stuck in the work.
So this is a discussion on judgment, on good and bad, on beliefs, and
on how all this stuff arises. The belief part is the me that comes up
against the decision. The me that feels the pressure of the situation.
So many teachings teach that we need to authentically feel our
feelings, and I completely agree. But not many teachings mention that
our feelings are relative to who we think we are, and what's going on
in the situation.
If you step on my foot, there will most probably be physical pain, but
most people assume there will be tons of healthy anger there as well,
and there certainly might be. However, the levels of anger depend
completely on my perception of the event. If I believe you meant to do
it, there will potentially be lots of anger. If I have compassion for
your frustrated situation, there will potentially be less anger. If I
believe it was completely an accident, there is the potential for very
little anger if at any comes up at all. So the anger is not absolute,
it is relative to who I believe I am and you are in that situation.
Most of us walk around with a solidified self that can't have it's
foot stepped on. Most teachings would say that we need to include the
healthy anger that comes up with all these situations. But that
assumes a static unmovable self. The ability to move self, or choose
(which is a new kind of judgment) what we want to attach to or believe
in, allows us a deep freedom and is acting on the non-dual side of
things. Learning this level of judgment allows us to have more options
when that conflict arises. I can change the me that is in the
situation. Fully dropping the me is to fully drop the relativistic
quality of the situation (feel the feelings, choose to drop the
judgment). Having these options in our toolkit is the building of
awareness. Awareness is what I have called discernment in the past. It
is the comparison and knowledge of where we are.
So we use the tension of the betterment level to achieve, and we use
the freedom of the non-dual level to grow spiritually. The two kinds
of decisions we have available to us are on two very different levels,
but both are really necessary.
So normal judging is between relative things and is on the level of
betterment. Judging (or choosing to experience) the level of absolute
is non-dual and a new kind of judgment for most people. When we are
stuck without the new kind of judgment, without the discernment of
awareness, we are stuck in the betterment side of things only. That is
generally a reactive and not very full experience of life. Once we
learn these other tools that we have available to us, it allows us to
navigate and improve within the betterment level, and it also offers
the entire spectrum of non-dual experience as well.
The major block to compassion is the judgment in our minds. Judgment
is the mind's primary tool of separation. ~ Diane Berke in The Gentle
Perhaps when we can see how TO ACT from non-separative action--not
from a "reaction/reactionary" mode, so to speak, we will truly choose
to create actions that will not separate us into an 'us' and 'them'.
Healing ourselves and our world can begin, once again, NOW.
Infinity Foundation is pleased to announce
the publication of the
following three books sponsored by it. Each of them was a 3-year
project authored by an accomplished scholar, and each pertains to
Indic traditions' positive impact on contemporary America.
1) "Emerson and the Light of India: An Intellectual History", by
Robert Gordon. National Book Trust, India. "
Ralph Waldo Emerson was the first American to pioneer the serious
exploration of Indian philosophy, and as his own thinking grew over
time, Indian philosophy profoundly influenced the course of that
growth. This book thoroughly investigates the ways in which the
scriptures of India shaped the maturing Transcendentalism of this
great Amerian thinker. In addition, by analyzing in concrete detail
the crucial ways in which the scriptures of India influenced
Emerson's metaphysical development, the book repudiates the arguments
of those who maintain that Emerson abandoned the optimistic faith of
his youth. it makes plain that those who ascribe to Emerson a"Fall"
from his early beliefs are demonstrably in error, primarily because
of their serious misunderstanding of the influence, on Emerson, of
Hindu and Buddhist teachings." (Back cover).
Given the central importance of Emerson's Transcendentalist movement
in America's intellectual history, and its influence upon a few
generations of American luminaries, this book is a important
corrective to American history and the role of Indic traditions in
A prior book republished in India by Infinity Foundation was, "TS
Eliot and Indic Traditions," by Cleao Kearns. This book showed how
Eliot's major works, including the poems, "The Wasteland" and "The
Four Quartets" were profoundly influenced by Upanishadic thoughts,
Gita, etc. In fact, large passages are almost direct translations
from Indic sources.
Both Emerson and Eliot were towering figures in American literature,
separated by a century. Both went to Harvard where their careers were
shaped by immersions in Indian texts and thought. But their
relationships with Hinduism evolved in very different ways.
Emerson went back to Harvard years later to make a major address to
the Harvard community, in which he publicly resigned as a Christian
minister and preacher, explaining how his new philosophy (based on
Hinduism) made it impossible for him to continue to preach
Christianity. For making this speech, Emerson was denounced by
Harvard. A decision was made to block him from ever being allowed to
come to Harvard. This ex-communication from a supposedly liberal
champion of intellectual freedom lasted till he died.
In Eliot's case, after he wrote some of America's most famous poems
under Indian influence, he faced a similar dilemma as Emerson:
whether to go all the way and leave behind his Christian identity, or
whether to U-Turn back to Christianity. Eliot was under heavy
Christian peer influence at Harvard. He eventually made a formal
public "conversion" back to Christianity. This, explains Cleo Kearns'
book, enabled him to continue studying Hindu texts from the safety of
an arms-length relationship. Henceforth, he was secure as a Christian
and said he was merely studying Hinduism from a distance as the
"other". The post-U-turn Eliot continued to appropriate from Indic
traditions and his works have left a permanent shift in western
literature and thought.
2) "The Experience of Meditation", by Jonathan Shear. Paragon Press,
USA. This is a compilation of meditation theories and practices in a
variety of religious traditions, including Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi and
Christian. Each chapter is written by an insider of the given
tradition who is invariably one of its leading living
scholar-practitioners. Shear worked hard to collaborate with each
system's prominent experts, in order to ensure that each was
represented authentically in its own voice. The book fills a gap in
college texts on the popular subject of meditation, by making it
pluralistic and yet without trying to hide the religious traditions
underneath each system.
One of the important outcomes from my interactions with Shear over
the years has been an incredible treasure trove of evidence on how
Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation got co-opted into Herb Benson's
"Western Science" and into Father Keating's "Christian Centering
Prayer". Both these appropriations are based on TM by erasing the
In the case of Father Thomas Keating, the Hindu source was seen as a
sort of threat to Christianity's claim of having developed meditation
internally, with no positive help from the heathen others. In Benson's
case, by ignoring the TM origins of all his "scientific findings" he
was able to launch himself as a "Western pioneer of mind science";
then this secured him a lucrative and powerful position with
Templeton Foundation where he has been facilitating the migration of
these scientific findings into Christian frameworks; and now he is
established as the "originator" of the new complementary medicine in
US research, hospitals and medical colleges. All this and much more
will be elaborated in my forthcoming U-Turn Theory book.
3) "Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness: Seeing
Through the Eyes of Infinity", by Don Salmon and Jan Maslow. Paragon
When I first met Don Salmon, a clinical practitioner of "spirituality
& psychology", he was deeply influenced by Sri Aurobindo and various
other Indian spiritual traditions. But he was a part of the common
trend of "sameness" of approaches as a way to mask distinctiveness
and to gain wider appeal. Don and I had to a few years of fruitful
engagement, much of it online through the YogaPsychology Yahoogroup
where he became a very active moderator. Infinity gave him a grant to
work on exploring the unacknowledged Indic influences, often because
of U-Turns. His work brought to light many such examples. He shifted
over time, starting to demand the rightful place of Indian
adhyatma-vidya (inner sciences) in R&D, education and popular
explanations. This book was a 3-year project sponsored by Infinity
Foundation in which Don brings out the conflucence of various
traditions in shaping the new emerging worldviews of body-mind-spirit
relationships from the point of psychology. It is somewhat ambiguous
as to where his latest position is on this -- between Indic
traditions on one side, Judeo-Christianity's lucrative market on the
other side, and "western" or generic science in the middle.
17TH VEDANTA CONGRESS: Prof. Pappu of Miami University is holding his
17th Congress. Once again, Infinity Foundation is proud to be the lead
sponsor of this event. The Lifetime Achievement Award this year is
being conferred to Prof. Arvind Sharma of McGill University.
Personally I feel nobody deserves it better given his immense
contributions from within the academy. The detailed program of the
Congress is attached.
Princeton, New Jersey. http://infinityfoundation.com/index.shtml
top of page